Guardians face tough test against Royals in matchup of AL Central's best

Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels
Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

The top two teams in the American League Central are set to begin their first series of the season, as the Cleveland Guardians will play host to the Kansas City Royals for a three-game set. Even though it is the first week of June, this series carries a ton of weight, considering the current four-game lead the Guardians hold.

Both teams come in with nearly identical run differentials, Cleveland being +78 and Kansas City sitting at +74. However, it must be mentioned that the Royals have played two more games than the Guardians, giving them a few more opportunities to score runs. This is not to take away from anything that Kansas City has done offensively but is still something worth taking note of when evaluating the two teams.

There is one factor that could play in the Guardians' favor. Each team's recent track record. Even though the Guardians went 3-3 over the past week, Kansas City is in the midst of a massive skid that has seen them drop six of their last eight games. During this span, the Royals have been outscored 43-35. This comes on the heels of an eight-game winning streak for Kansas City and an impressive 17-6 stretch dating back to the last day of April. This is not to say the Royals are not a good team or to take away anything from their start to the season so far, but baseball is a game of averages, and things have a way of evening out over a long period of time. This little down stretch for Kansas City could be the counter to their nearly month-long stretch of outstanding play.

Should Cleveland win or even sweep Kansas City, they will create some much-needed separation between themselves and the rest of their division rivals. If not, the Guardians would see their current four-game lead in the American League Central diminish, an outcome that they would like to avoid at all costs. It will not necessarily be easy, but they will have a pretty good chance of coming out on top, considering that they have Triston McKenzie, Logan Allen, and Tanner Bibee scheduled to start this week. This does not mean a series win is guaranteed by any means, just that they are facing the Royals at the right time in their rotation which should give them their best shot in this series.